The Elderly Kind of Blues

Seniors & Mental Health

Mental health is widely considered a new age concept, which is obscure to many members of the aging populations. Older generations ignored mental health issues and were more likely to address physical ailments. In regards to uncomfortable feelings, words such as “melancholy” were likely used to instead of “depression.” Older generations are more likely to express physical versus mental complaints. The avoidance of addressing mental health issues is linked to the extreme stigmatization of mental illness in previous decades. Unfortunately, the ongoing neglect of mental health problems becomes a habit transmitted to younger generations. Children of the aging populations often become caretakers and key advocates for their elder’s well-being, but find themselves covering all the basis of their parent’s health and well-being except mental health. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two million Americans above the age 65 suffer from some form of depression. The elderly population is one of the most vulnerable populations to developing depression due to the experience of significant losses related to death, physical ability, and independence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the United States, less than 5% of older adults living in the community show signs of depression, the percentage rises to over 13% among those who require home health care. Considering the extreme risk and vulnerability of the elderly population choosing home care that addresses the well-being of the whole person is essential. Holistic home-care is a new era approach to senior care that tailors care to enhance one’s social, emotional and physical well-being. Finding senior care that treats the whole person can be like searching for a needle in a haystack in major metropolitan areas such as Washington, DC.  This article will discuss the manifestation of depression among the elderly and the benefits of holistic care.Senior-Care-in-Washington-DC

Aging & Depression

It is common for people to experience depression at various points in their life in response to negative life events such as ended relationships, financial hardship, and interpersonal conflict. However, clinical depression manifest in mood and physical symptoms. Research shows that older adults are more likely to label their “down feelings” as pessimism or helplessness versus depression. Additionally, older versus young adults are less likely to endorse statements related to “feeling down” or “blue.” Older adults commonly display withdraw, less communication, increased sleeping, expressionlessness, and bodily neglect. In older adults, physical symptoms often accompany depression including, coronary heart disease, dementia, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and cancer. Life events related to loss of loved ones and independence can exacerbate these symptoms. Unlike younger adults, older adults often lose their ability to engage in coping behaviors such as exercise, outings with friends, and travel to alleviate mental and physical symptoms. These circumstances leave older adults not only at greater risk of developing severe depression but little means to mitigate the suffering.

Senior Care & Depression

Nursing home residents and older adults with chronic illness are at greater risk of developing depression. This risk is due in large part to the lack of quality care available in nursing facilities with an unbalanced caregiver to resident ratios. This imbalance diminishes the amount of emotional, social, and physical support available to clients. Many nursing home facilities plan rigorously to design communities that cultivate social and physical well-being, only to find that a large percentage of residents don’t adequately utilize all that the facility has to offer. This underutilization is mainly due to physical and mental declines that limit their access and interest. Senior care facilities in major metropolitan cities such as Washington, DC find themselves overwhelmed and falling short of providing quality care as their mission statements often promise, due to understaffing and short-sighted approaches.

Holistic Care

Holistic care is a growing approach adopted by senior care providers in efforts to improve the quality of life of the aging population. Through this approach, caregivers are trained to assess and address the social, emotional, physical, and in some cases spiritual needs of the client.  Many nursing home facilities have begun to adopt the holistic approach to senior care. However, like any other service industry, quantity often reduces quality. Philia is a home-care agency that adopts the holistic approach to senior care offered only on a 1:1 basis to ensure quality. In addition to assisting with ADL’s, caregivers are trained to incorporate nutritional meal preparation, tailored exercise regimen, activity engagement, and emotional support. Each client’s care plan is designed to enhance their quality of life and well-being in oppose to maintain their present state of health. Holistically trained caregivers are trained to recognize the signs of depression specific to older adults and implement interventions that treat the physical, social, and emotional manifestations. The mind and body are interconnected, each impacting the other dynamically throughout one’s life. Quality senior care addresses both physical and psychological aspects of a person, recognizing that this is the key to total well-being.


Cavanaugh, J., & Blanchard-Fields, F. (2014). Adult development and aging. Nelson Education.

Friedhoff, A. J., Ballenger, J., Bellack, A. S., Carpenter, W. T., Chui, H. C., Dobrof, R., & Merikangas, K. R. (1992). Diagnosis and treatment of depression in late life. JAMA268(8), 1018-1024.

Zarit, S. H., & Zarit, J. M. (2012). Mental disorders in older adults: Fundamentals of assessment and treatment. Guilford Press.

Poison Prevention Awareness Month

Elder Care in Rockville MD

Your parent’s health and safety are the most important focuses of your elder care journey with her. This means understanding the risks that Elder-Care-in-Rockville-MDshe is facing and doing what you can to mitigate those risks. This helps you to ensure your parent has the best chances of living a healthy, happy, and comfortable life as she ages in place. March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month, the perfect opportunity for you to find out more about the poisoning risks that your parent might face and how you can help protect her.

The concept of “poisoning” conjures images of illegal and obscure substances, but the reality is that poisoning can occur from a huge variety of substances. Many poisonings happen from perfectly commonplace household items, including medications and cleaning products. A poison can be any substance that is not used properly or that a person otherwise comes into contact with and that is harmful.

Poisoning is the leading cause of injury-related death throughout the United States. Elderly adults may be at particular risk of poisoning injury for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Seniors tend to take multiple medications and may take them inappropriately.
  • Low vision can mean your parent is unable to read labels properly.
  • Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can cause confusion and lack of judgment regarding a variety of substances.
  • Seniors may not know how to respond to home alerts such as carbon monoxide detectors, or may not have such alerts in place.
  • Reduced acuity of senses including sense of taste and smell can make it more difficult for an elderly adult to detect if food has gone bad, making it more likely that that senior will experience food borne infections, an extraordinarily common type of poisoning.


There are many ways that you and your aging parent’s elderly health care services provider can help to reduce the risk that your elderly loved one will suffer from poisoning. Some of these include:

  • Ensure that your parent understands the dosing guidelines for all medications that she takes, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  • If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia that lead to memory loss, confusion, or other kinds of cognitive limitations, keep medications out of reach.
  • Consider utilizing an organized reminder system such as a pill organizer to help your parent stay safely compliant with her medications.
  • Install safety alerts including a carbon monoxide detector and make sure that she knows how she should respond if it goes off.
  • Avoid purchasing chemical household products that resemble or could be easily confused for edible substances such as juices, drinks, or candy. If you do need to purchase these chemicals, keep them out of reach of your loved one, and make sure that they are clearly labeled.
  • Make sure that your loved one knows that she should never share her medication with anyone, or take medication that belongs to someone else. It does not matter if she has taken the medication before or if the other person has the same symptoms.
  • Use food safety measures, including following expiration dates and proper temperatures.

If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Rockville, MD, please call the friendly staff at Philia Care today at 202-607-2525.